The Value of Finding a Creative OutletJuly 19, 2017
I was feeling especially stressed the other day.
We all have those days, when things just do not go as planned; you hit heavy traffic on your way into work, a client doesn’t react to your design the way you were expecting, the restaurant you order your tacos from at lunch messes up your order and then suddenly you are feeling the weight of this stressful world resting directly on your shoulders. As I sat at home one night feeling overly dramatic about my less than great day and wondering how I could have possibly survived it, I remembered my calligraphy supplies in our spare bedroom closet.
I thought to myself, “why not?” Sure, I gave up on my Tombows a few months back when I realized I couldn’t just pick up a pen and create the Good Type Instagram masterpieces I sift through from time to time. But something about the idea of mindlessly waving my brush pen wand and creating strokes that would allow me to forget the day, sounded pleasantly intriguing in that moment. So I dusted off my calligraphy supply box and sat at the table with my purple Tombow pen, a clean sheet of paper and an open mind. After about 30 minutes of practicing my r’s (still a major WIP), I realized that I was no longer thinking about the day that I had or my ruined tacos from lunches past. Instead, my brain had switched gears and was entirely focused on the new challenge in front of me and I began feeling better.
An Outlet Fuels Creativity
Humans spend on average 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.1 For digital designers, many of those hours are spent in front of a computer. This is not only hard on our eyes, but can also become a creative block for our minds as well. Exploring a new medium or taking time to learn a new skill is inspiring and can carry through into digital work as well. I find that when I’m creating things with my hands, I experience a lot of fulfillment and satisfaction with the creative part of myself. The more I practice it, the more it begins to pour over into my design work at LLT in a beautiful way. Take sketching for example: as experienced designers, we wouldn’t just roll right into a digital logo design without thinking conceptually on paper first, right? That period of conceptualization, creativity and free-flowing thought outside of the computer is crucial to a successful design. The same thing is true with life and having a creative outlet. We need those moments of spontaneous creative freedom that will fuel our ideas and passions in work and everyday life.
It Relieves Stress
I find that the simplest way to de-stress, is to find a distraction that allows my mind to relax and forget about the trying details of the day. A creative outlet is proven by multiple sources to relieve pressure and therefore improve your mental health. If you can be intentional about diverting your focus to an activity that you enjoy and focusing instead on what you can manifest in front of you in the moment, your stress has the potential to melt away. A creative outlet is a beautiful distraction.
Working on decreasing the amount of stress you feel is especially important when working in a creative field in which your sole purpose is to be innovative and generate ideas. I don’t think it’s impossible to create while under pressure, (sometimes I produce my best work on a tight deadline) but I do believe that to truly be able to give yourself to your work and dedicate yourself fully to a project, you can’t be wasting precious time worrying about other things. Unique, innovative and original design takes a fully invested mind. I find it hard to accept that a mind preoccupied with stress of everyday life and other work can truly achieve this level of creativity.
Allows You to Grow as a Creative
Learning a new craft will also make you a more well-rounded designer. As soon as you broaden your horizons and experience something new, you are bringing that skill and the ideas it brings with it to the table. In web design, although hand generated typography is not as widely utilized, it still makes for a valuable skill that could come in handy in an assortment of web elements or even logo design. The same goes for other various hobbies and creative outlets. Whatever yours may be, you never know when that skill will allow you to break free from the norm and enter into something truly distinct. You don’t have to be pro at it, either. Just being able to create something outside of the box for yourself will help you grow and advance as an individual.
The day after my personal brush-type therapy session, I felt a new sense of imagination. By utilizing this new outlet and allowing my brain to relax and explore, I was creating an environment for my ideas to thrive and I was contributing to the betterment of my future as a creative as well. I may not be the next Seb Lester, but every time I pick up my calligraphy pen, my paintbrush, or even my knitting needle, I am growing as a designer, shaping who I am as a person and saying a big fat “NO” to allowing stress to rule my life.